I have had two cervical (neck) surgeries, am single and live on my own. As of the last surgery and the last two years, I have been unable to work, which means no income. I am awaiting disability, but even when approved/received, it will be hard to pay all of my bills with the amount of money I will receive. I have some savings, which is what I have been living on, but as we all can imagine, it goes quickly. So needless to say, I watch every penny. Here are some things I do to save money.
1. Transfer Credit Card Balances
We all know we should try to keep our credit card debt at a minimum. If you do have credit card debt and have good credit, I suggest looking into the balance transfer offers you receive in the mail. Some of them are for 0% interest for up to 12 months. That means for 12 months at 0% interest (or however long your offer is for), when you make a payment, you are actually applying 100% of your payment to your principal. Without the interest, you get to pay down the amount you owe without having some of your payment going towards just the interest. Be sure to keep all other 0% or low interest offers you receive so you can review them for the best deal when you reach the expiration on your current offer. Mark the expiration date of your current offer on your calendar approximately four to six weeks prior to the actual expiration date. This allows you time to transfer your balance to the next best offer from the ones you have been collecting (as mentioned above). Make sure to send a brief note (keep a copy) to your current expiring offer, stating that you are transferring your balance and would like to close out your account (they will not close account over the phone). It takes three to five minutes to write a brief "Cancellation Letter." Some credit card companies will even extend their offer or increase the rate ever so slightly to keep your business. It is worth a quick phone call. Let them know that if they can meet or beat the current new offer, you would be more than willing to stay with them. I have been doing this for ten or more years with no problems. It is well worth the minimal amount of paperwork involved.
2. Reduced Baked Goods from the Bakery Section
I only buy "reduced" price, store-made bread and rolls from my local supermarket. For example, a six-pack of Kaiser rolls may be $1.49 originally. The reduced price a day or so later can be as low as 99 cents. This is a great savings if done on a weekly basis. Be sure to buy extra when you find a great sale, as it is a hit or miss deal sometimes. Most bakery products freeze well if you use a good resealable bag for extra protection. Ask your bakery if they offer these deals and where they display their "reduced" products. You might even want to ask if there is a certain day or time that they bring these reduced items out, so you can have first dibs.
3. Meat/Cheese Ends in the Deli Section
As most families know, it has become very expensive to buy lunchmeat and deli cheese. My local supermarket offers ends. The items offered are anywhere from roast beef and bologna to imported Swiss cheese and American cheese. There is nothing wrong with these ends. They are mainly the leftover ends, or if you are lucky, the leftover pre-sliced items of the day or week. I find they correspond with whatever the sales are for that week. I have a simple hand held cheese slicer for the cheese ends that works great if your package contains one thick end of cheese. Buying these ends can be as cheap as $2.39 per pound for roast beef or imported Swiss cheese that may typically cost up to $8.99 per pound. Ask your deli person if they have a section for their ends.
4. Reduced Vegetables and Fruits
My local supermarket has a section for reduced veggies and fruits. Again, there is nothing wrong with these items. They are most likely ripe and ready for eating as soon as possible.
5. Swap Coupons
Since being unable to work for the last two years with no income yet, I find coupon cutting to be very helpful. I buy the Sunday paper that usually contains two coupon inserts. I cut what I can use and give the unused coupons to my neighbors and family. They do the same. It is amazing how many more coupons I have accumulated since starting to swap.
These may seem like little ideas, but if you do this across the board, with everything possible, you can really keep your cost of living down. After all, as Benjamin Franklin said, "A penny saved is a penny earned."
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by mailto:MyStory@stretcher.com
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